Tag Archives: Belvoir Street Theatre

MY NAME IS JIMI: A GIFT OF CULTURE

MY NAME IS JIMI
Photos: Daniel Boud

By chance, my companion to the show last night was friend and Indigenous educator, Natalie.  Larrakia woman, Saltwater woman.  Which was handy because myself, 6 generations here, and the British woman and the Nigerian woman in front of us needed some help during the pop quiz!    Yep, there’s a few audience tests in MY NAME IS JIMI! House lights up and a chance to enjoy the reactions of the people near me.  It’s just part of a gift from the Bani Family to me and I accept with open heart and joy in the receiving.  After experiencing this brilliant theatrical event how could I not?  Continue reading MY NAME IS JIMI: A GIFT OF CULTURE

ANGELA BETZIAN’S MORTIDO @ BELVOIR STREET THEATRE

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Inset pic-Tom Conroy and Colin Friels. Featured pic- Tom Conroy and David Valencia in Angela Betzian’s MORTIDO currently playing upstairs at Belvoir Street theatre. Production photography by Brett Boardman.

We saw this play the other night.

Quite a bit of Sydney theatre is basically elegant pap. Or noisy chaotic pap presented as high drama. Or where actor and director are in an embrace of mutual congratulation and admiration, the audience almost irrelevant….mere observers.

One often goes to the theatre like a prospector hoping that at the end of the day there, at the bottom of the pan will be a speck or two of gold or even a nugget. Continue reading ANGELA BETZIAN’S MORTIDO @ BELVOIR STREET THEATRE

ACTT PRESENTS SLUT THE PLAY DOWNSTAIRS @ BELVOIR STREET

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During October and November, The Actors College Of Theatre and Television (ACTT) is presenting six unique student productions, to elegantly showcase the talents of its graduating Advanced Diploma acting students.

Currently playing, and the second in time, is American playwright Katie Cappiello’s SLUT THE PLAY. Cappiello’s play premiered at the New York International Fringe Festival in August 2013, produced by The Arts Effects Theatre Company.

Maeliosa Stafford expertly directs ten actresses playing eleven roles.  Student productions always makes it so much easier to fulfill large cast requirements.

We see Cappiello’s world through the eyes of a  group of  New York City teenage girls. The production zooms along for 110 minutes with one interval. Continue reading ACTT PRESENTS SLUT THE PLAY DOWNSTAIRS @ BELVOIR STREET

THE LAST DAYS OF JUDAS ISACRIOT @ BELVOIR STREET, DOWNSTAIRS

ACTT_Judas_Dress Run_Belvoir St Theatre_2015 ACTT_Judas_Dress Run_Belvoir St Theatre_2015 ACTT_Judas_Dress Run_Belvoir St Theatre_2015

During October and November, The Actors College Of Theatre and Television (ACTT) is presenting six unique student productions, to elegantly showcase the talents of their graduating Advanced Diploma acting students.

Their first  production in time, American playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis’ THE LAST DAYS OF JUDAS ISACRIOT, has already taken place. JUDAS, expertly directed by John O’Hare, played the Belvoir Street Theatre between the 6th and 10th October

Giurgis’ play goes back some time. The play debuted Off-Broadway in 2005 directed by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman and had its first West End production was in 2008.  Continue reading THE LAST DAYS OF JUDAS ISACRIOT @ BELVOIR STREET, DOWNSTAIRS

The Dog/The Cat @ Belvoir Street Downstairs

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Production photography by Brett Boardman

This is a comic play and it is excellent.

It  is in two parts: one written by Brendan Cowell (Dog Part) and the other by Lally Katz (Cat Part)

They are both prominent in Australian theatre. Cowell lives in downtown Newtown and Katz is one of Melbourne’s great comedic playwrights. She is also a great actress, though she doesn’t appear in her play.

The play has  three actors and the performance by the two men, Xavier Samuel and Benedict Hardie, deserve the highest superlatives. Andrea Demetriades is also darn good.     Continue reading The Dog/The Cat @ Belvoir Street Downstairs

The Glass Menagerie at Belvoir

Rose Riley and  Harry Greenwood in THE GLASS MENAGERIE. Pic Brett Boardman
Rose Riley and Harry Greenwood in THE GLASS MENAGERIE. Pic Brett Boardman

For any student with a passion for drama, be it for the stage or for the screen, Tennessee Williams’ THE GLASS MENAGERIE makes for highly recommended viewing.

Great drama is about deep connection and this is what one gets with this play Williams wrote in the key of sorrow as he looks back on his life growing up in his struggling Southern family.

First performed in Chicago in 1944, THE GLASS MENAGERIE is the play that established Williams brilliant career.

Continue reading The Glass Menagerie at Belvoir

Nora

The stress of family   life beautifully captured in Brett Boardman's photograph
The stress of family life beautifully captured in Brett Boardman’s photograph

Setting:  The setting for Act 1 was a domestic home suggested by an open house frame which clearly delineated rooms without walls.  The cast were on stage reading a bedtime story to the children and working at the table when the audience entered.

The stage was stripped to black brick and cement and black floor, the thin steel rods of the structure cleverly placed to maximise the use of the playing space.  One audience member in the front row with long legs clearly had his feet in the living room. The doors had a steel lintel at 2m high which made the frame even easier to accept.  There was no fussy miming of doors even when a character came from the bathroom so the action flowed freely.  Having the children run around the space made the domesticity even more present and the disregard for the traditional facing of the audience by performers also reinforced this.

The audience seating is in 3 wedges at Belvoir.  The hallway of the house faced the Audience left wedge.  On the OP side were kitchen down (benchtop, sink, cupboards, stool), dining room mid (table and chairs) and bedroom up (bed and side tables).  At the US of the hallway was the bathroom with toilet and double sink.  On the P side of the hallway was the lounge room down (sofa, toys, tub style chair facing US) and the kids room up (bunk bed).

 Act 2: presented a much more claustrophobic scene, delineating a small flat with a galley kitchen (sink, benchtops and a free standing fridge) and living room with a fold out bed and extra chair facing US and coffee table.  This time the set was aligned to the centre wedge of audience.   The ten minutes unfolding and making up of the bed was enjoyed by the audience and many people around the audience had a little chat about it.  The lady next to me was asleep by then and the couple behind me had been talking loudly about being bored.  So this piece of business gave them a new topic.

I think the uprights, even though they were thin, would have affected the view of most audience at some time.  Unfortunately for me, it was the scene in the bedroom when Nora is about to slam the door of the doll’s house.

Lighting:   The final lines of the play referred to darkness and for mine, that certainly was a theme.  It was very dim.  I thought it was just me but when there were important events in Act 1, I could see people leaning forward to peer into the action.  There were very few lanterns front of house and when cast moved DS the bottom of their face disappeared.  I didn’t actually recognise Damien Ryan until he threw his head up to say “God”.  It was only time his face was lit clearly.  Additionally, the emotional hit of the girl’s little black shoes was completely lost.  Moody might have been the imperative but it didn’t work for me or my companions.  One of our party thought it might have been to avoid possible shadows from the set struts.

Barndoored fresnels and par cans provided the back lighting in the house but even so the Audience R front rows were lit up in Act 1.  The conventional lanterns were on low intensity and very yellow especially for the night scenes.  There were no colour changes, no blues for night etc just different intensity levels.  There were a couple of white LEDs for extra depth.  And some silk or frost on the perch pars.

There was well timed area lighting for the home.  Well timed also, was the DBO just before Act 1 Sc2.  It served to inform the audience that something had changed, even though lights up revealed the same scene.  Also well operated, was the gradual fade up of intensity leading to the denouement of Act 2.

There were practical lamps for bedroom, practical reading lights for the bunks and a living room lamp in the flat.

Audio:  In Act 1 there was a tinkling, glockenspiel sound which was so close to my family’s Grandfather clock that I knew it was about time passing.  It was echoed in an alarm sound and the landline ring and a mobile message tone in Act 2.

 This light sound was supplement by an occasional bassy, reverbed, thumping which was more pronounced at the end of the Act and did not reoccur in Act 2. At one stage, the children were both using earphones so that the child cast were not exposed to the porn discussion, then, as a neat segue into the next scene, the daughter began dancing.  At this time, the sound effect changed to thump in time to the child’s moves.  The sound designer also resisted letting the audience in on what Nora was dancing to, but the kids knew. The sparse SFX were really well placed and deeply evocative.

It’s not often I get into a philosophical debate at interval about a Sound Effect.  I thought it was the sound of Nora being metaphorically stomped and beaten down by Torvald. My companion believed it was a rumbling precursor to the shaking of the marriage foundations.  But he’s a therapist!

NORA plays upstairs at Belvoir Street until the 14th September.

This review was first published in Judith Greenaway’s blog-http://www.sydneylivetheatretechnicalnotes.blogspot.com.au

FOOD

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FOOD is a magnificent collaboration between Force Majeure and Belvoir St and was originally seen downstairs at Belvoir in 2012. The script has been devised by co director actor/playwright Steve Rodgers.(Warning there are at times lots of strong language) .The result is a glorious fusion of physical theatre, straight drama and dance.

Champion’s choreography includes everyday movement, and fragile, tender, intimate gestures incorporating orchestrated incidental movement in slow-mo: imagined vignettes; thoughts expressed, physically, aloud; gestures of tender, gentle touch the characters wish they could lavish on each other, if only it felt safe, permissible and possible to do so. Champion has gone for intense nuance rather than a theatrical-choreographic combination , yet she also features a small solo or interactive sequence in which the characters express their innermost authentic feelings, as they transcend the roles that they have been cast in.

Continue reading FOOD